Germany at a glance

Germany is one of the largest outbound tourism markets in the world. About three-quarters of Germans go on vacation, with one-third of them travelling abroad, and many Germans take at least two holiday trips per year. In total, Germans took more than 70-million holiday trips in 2012, spending about €62-billion (a 2% increase on the previous year).

Germany is the third-largest generator of international tourists to South Africa (after the USA and UK) and it is the only European core market that has showed consistent growth since 2009. In 2012, arrivals from Germany reached 266 300, and increase of close to 13% on the previous year. More than half of German travellers to South Africa are in the age group of 25-44 years, and the majority are well-educated professionals.

Nearly 85% of all trips by German international travellers are for leisure purposes. A majority of these trips are undertaken as couples or families. Visiting natural attractions and experiencing wildlife are the most common activities of German travellers to South Africa. When asked about the main reasons for satisfaction with their visit, a majority mentioned scenic beauty and wildlife experiences. Over 70% of Germans visit the Western Cape, and just over 30% respectively visit Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KZN and the Eastern Cape.

There is a direct correlation between ethical factors and the success of a brand in Germany. Nearly three-quarters of the German population worry about the shortage of natural resources and every second person perceives climate change as a serious problem. Campaigns by NGOs and media coverage have also sensitised German consumers’ environmental and ethical awareness.

Close to 50% of Germans buy Fair Trade products. Among these, 7.7% buy regularly, 26.8% occasionally and 14.4% sporadically buy Fair Trade products. In 2011, sale of Fairtrade-labelled products was over €400-million, up by 18% from the previous year. The buying behavior depends on the education level, the professional category and disposable income of the consumer.  People in senior positions and full-time employees spend more money on Fair Trade products than freelancers, skilled workers and labourers do. Most Germans buy Fair Trade products in the supermarket (49.4%), in world shops (36.1%) or in organic or natural food stores (32.0%). Every second person rejects child labour in production, and more than 40% of the population prefer environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional products.

Sustainability is ranked as seventh among the important factors that influence the decision-making process to book a holiday for the German population. However, as many as 17% of Germans rank sustainability as one of the top 3 influencing factors. Interestingly, local culture is ranked first and price only sixth, which differs greatly from other European source markets. Thirty-four percent of Germans are familiar with sustainable tourism products, but only 14.5% have booked one.

Currently, a majority of consumers remain unwilling to pay more for sustainable holidays. However, there is an attractive niche group that is actively interested in booking a sustainable trip, of which a high proportion is found in emerging markets. There is a balanced perception about the relative importance of ecological, social and economic topics. In other words, people see the role of environmental protection, involvement of local communities and their cultures, and issues such as locally-sourced products and jobs as equally important within sustainable tourism.

Responsible Travellers


This group of consumers has a very clear awareness of Fair Trade and a sustainable lifestyle; they expect the complete product to be fair; they have a distinct tendency to implement sustainable and Fair Trade principles in their life and they actively look for sustainable, environmentally friendly options when shopping and consuming. They are growth and globalisation skeptics, open-minded and have a desire to downsize and decelerate. They consider themselves supporters of global responsibility and are against consumerism; they are interested in local products and the welfare of the workers. They wish to increase their consumption of Fair Trade products and believe that travellers should pay for the environmental damage they cause. Generally book short-haul holidays, but would consider a long-haul holiday if it is transparently demonstrated that it is fair and environmentally friendly. Book through specialised travel agents, and are very label-conscious.

To reach this segment: put producers and locals in the centre of interest; do it in an emotional manner and inform the tourists about the positive impact of fair and sustainable tourism in the destination. Give detailed information about environmental management of the hotel. Do not focus too much on economical and/or business details, avoid graphs, show environmental or social facts with text, pictures or symbols, and avoid expensive marketing campaigns.

Liberal IntelIectuals

This group of consumers belongs to the German upper class; are well educated and individualistic. They prefer authentic holiday experiences, appreciate meaningful interaction and are politically aware. They take own responsibility for living a sustainable lifestyle, and believe in creating a new world society though consumer behaviour changes. They buy sustainable and Fair Trade products because it makes them feel better; it is an expression of their individualism. Travel is very important to this segment, and they would consider a sustainable option but would never compromise quality. They are highly analytical, and skeptic of sustainability labels that are not perceived to be transparent. Require proof in the form of facts and figures to trust a label. Book through tour operators, but do a lot of online research and are influenced by peers as well as leading brands.

To reach this segment: promote quality and uniqueness of the product; give detailed information about environmental management issues in a scientific manner, but combine it with emotional aspects. Avoid negative messages or charity aspects, do not make claims that cannot be substantiated.

High Achiever/Performer

This consumer group belongs to the social upper class; is performance- and efficiency-oriented and highly adept at using IT and other new technologies. Career is more important than family, and this segment wants to be perceived as style and affluent lifestyle leaders. They are early adopters, but would only select a sustainable product if it is of high quality and does not compromise any other requirements. They do not have a big interest in global Fair Trade and other initiatives, and believe that everyone is the architect of their own fortune. This segment loves travel, especially long-haul, and seeks out adventure and cultural experiences. They are not shopping around for special offers, but demand high quality. They often book directly, using the Internet, and are influenced by peers and celebrities.

To reach this segment: emphasise quality and individual benefits and use positive phrases like "you can". A minimalistic but professional marketing campaign, using new media and social networks, will attract this segment. Do not use negative emotions or words like “you should not”, and use images and stories about locals sparingly.

Adaptive Pragmatists

This group of consumers belongs to the middle class and makes up the new young centre of German society. They are looking for security and social stability but also aim for success and professional careers. They are interested in culture; are modern, cosmopolitan and love travelling. Their travelling behavior is fairly mainstream, and they are not actively looking for sustainable holiday options. They would only consider a sustainable travel product if it meets all their needs with no premium pricing. Social and environmental benefits are viewed as optionals; travel is a reward and they don't want to feel guilty about it. They book through tour operators, and are influenced by mainstream media.

To reach this segment: give only basic information that is not too scientific and use results of consumer reviews. Avoid technical facts and graphs, as well as ethical and charity aspects. Consider special offers and promotions to draw them in.